Millions of people suffer from acne every year, and for many of them, it leaves skin-ravaging scars that can affect their confidence for years or even decades. Since there’s no real “cure” for acne that consistently works for everyone, many patients simply resign themselves to caking on makeup or dealing with a damaged self-image. However, as the field of dermatology continues to advance and evolve, there’s no reason to let the aftereffects of acne to impact your life any longer. Below, we’ll explore some of the acne scar treatment options available today, so you (or a loved one) can finally feel comfortable in your own skin.

Types of Acne Scarring

Naturally, the type of treatment you’ll need to seek will depend on the type of scarring you have. Typically, an acne scar will fall into one of these two categories:

  1. Hypertrophic or keloid scars. These are raised bumps (often with discoloration), caused when the body produces too much collagen in response to acne wounds.
  2. Atrophic or depressed scars. The opposite of hypertrophic, these scars present as indentations in the skin, caused when skin’s supporting fat or muscle is lost. “Icepick” scars are atrophic and resemble small, deep pits in the skin, while “boxcar” scars are typically wider and shallower.

Contrary to common belief, red marks left behind after acne is not scarring, but simply hyperpigmentation. This can usually be resolved with sessions of microdermabrasion or topical medications.

acne scar treatmentTreatments for Hypertrophic Scarring

Hypertrophic scars can be difficult to eliminate entirely, but injections of mild steroids like Kenalog are great for flattening and minimizing the appearance of the bumps. People also often have success by applying silicone gel or sheets to the affected areas, though this typically takes more time to show progress. In extreme cases of hypertrophic scarring, surgical excision may be necessary.

Tissue Filling for Atrophic Scarring

Since icepick and boxcar scars are effectively holes in the skin, tissue filling treatments can be quite effective. Soft-tissue fillers like Juvederm, Sculptra, and others are injected into the scar via a small needle, plumping the skin and smoothing out the surface. The procedure is generally inexpensive and minimally invasive; however, it is a temporary solution and will only last 1-2 years.

acne scar treatmentLaser Resurfacing for Shallow Atrophic Scars

Another option for fixing atrophic scars (particularly boxcar scars) is to use a laser treatment to actually remake the surface of your skin. Laser resurfacing is similar to a process like dermabrasion (which is also effective), but with the added benefits that it’s more precise and generally more effective, especially on shallow scars. Note that lasers are only effective on light-skinned patients, as they can actually do more damage to naturally darker pigmentations. You should also anticipate 1-2 weeks of recovery time after the procedure as you allow the new layer of skin to form.

Punch Techniques for Deep Atrophic Scars

This final set of treatments is ideal for those who have deeper icepick or boxcar scars that a resurfacing procedure is unable to fix. There are three procedures in the punch technique family: punch excision, punch graft, and punch elevation. They are all minor surgical procedures that involve removing the base of the scars with a punch tool, and either stitching the wound together or filling in the open area with skin from another part of the body (often from behind the ear).

To learn which, if any, of these procedures are best for you, you’ll need a doctor who is experienced with acne scar removal and can guide you through the pros and cons of each option. Call (951) 719-2950 to set up a consultation with Dr. Balikian today.